For those of you who don’t understand the problem with Wikipedia as a serious source I submit only that it currently (after being suggested in humor on 30 Rock) reports that Janis Joplin “speed walked everywhere and was afraid of toilets.”
While it appears the article has been locked before someone could update it to include that she also ate cats I think this is a good example of how the wisdom of the mob is not always correct.
3 thoughts on “Wikipedia, the very free encyclopedia”
Ok, that may be true … but you gotta admit that’s damn funny.
Okay, I’ll admit that it probably said that about Janis.
But I’ll bet it didn’t say that for long.
Wikipedia includes checks and balances in its “anybody can edit” model. Such as the recent posts list, which many volunteers scan to spot vandalism; automated processes called “bots” which auto-reverse the more obvious cases of vandalism, such as blanked pages; and the page history, that anyone reading a Wikipedia article can use to see what changes have been made over time.
No one doing serious academic research would rely on Wikipedia as their only source, but then, no one doing serious research sould rely on any one source.
Studies have been done comparing Wikipedia’s accuracy against other encyclopedias, including Britannica, and it compares favorably.
I heard about that study on NPR comparing Wikipedia to Britannica and Wikipedia had it still had more errors, but did fairly well. I mean a wise person is more likely to see something that seems off and say “Wait, that doesn’t seem right,” and click on the source. Dumb people believe everything they heard and see anyway, so it would make no difference if it’s wrong on Wikipedia or Fox News.